Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Engineering (ME)

Legacy Department



Gao, Bruce Z

Committee Member

Webb , Kenneth

Committee Member

Li , Gang


The analysis of the cellular microenvironment is an area that has received much
attention recently in the study of the tractions cells use for locomotion. Specifically, the
study of cardiac cell mechanics is of particular interest as cardiac dysfunction is one of
the leading causes of death in America. This progression is fueled by the need to have a
system capable of reproducing mechanical environments before, during and after a
dysfunctional event in order to fully characterize the causes and prevent any permanent
damage. The current study proposes a system capable of providing quantitative
measurements of the cellular microenvironment while concurrently allowing the same
environment to be spatially controlled through collagen deposition and alignment. In this
study, we have developed a system capable of characterizing the mechanical environment
of contractile cardiac myocytes and migratory cardiac fibroblasts while concurrently
allowing for fine control over cell position and alignment using a combination of
Traction Force Microscopy with a deformable substrate and Finite Element Analysis. The
results of this study indicate that this system can be applied to the study of the mechanical
nature of cardiac dysfunctions like hypertrophy, myocardial infarction and hypertension.